Today in AgBioView:
* Eco-warrior peer goes over to the other side
* Watchout Greenpeace, Melchett has joined the dark side...
* Bt in the river
* Terminator technology for GE crops
* FEWER ADULTS THINK ORGANIC FOOD IS SAFER
* Doubts grow on organic foods
* Organic turn-off?
* Ruckus Society Latest Feature on ActivistCash.com
* FIELDS OF DREAMS
* Biotech Crops Spread Worldwide
* S.Africa Gets First Biotech Food Crop
* SA Ready for Modified Maize
* BT COTTON EFFECTIVE IN CONTROLLING BOLLWORM IN INDIA
* Some food labels misleading over GM content
* GM-free foods break the rules
* A Lawyer's Take on Risk, Accountability, and Liability in AgBiotech
Eco-warrior peer goes over to the other side
January 4, 2002
By Charlie Methven
A year after retiring as executive director of Greenpeace, in order to make his 800-acre Norfolk farm "more organic", eco-warrior (Lord) Peter Melchett is returning to the fray.
This time, though, Melchett, a Labour hereditary peer whose great-grandfather founded ICI, will be working for the other side. He has just accepted a lucrative consultancy with the corporate PR company Burson-Marsteller.
His new clients will range from the oil-producing Saudi royal family to firms such as Tesco, Kingfisher and Unilever. In the recent past, BM has also represented the controversial biotech firm Monsanto, oil giants Shell and the chemical company Union Carbide.
Melchett was one of the ringleaders of the white-overalled loons who flattened a field of genetically modified wheat in 1999 and recently accused Monsanto's chief executive, Robert Shapiro, of "bully boy" tactics, "high handedness" and arrogance.
A spokesman for one GM conglomerate says: "Peter Melchett used to be a spanner in the works, but now he's the works itself. This entry into the real world is to be welcomed, and his great-grandfather would be very proud of him. But we are not quite sure if this really fits in with his efforts to make his Norfolk farm fully organic."
Melchett sees it differently. "This poacher turned gamekeeper stuff is simply not fair," he says. "I am going to be giving advice to companies about environmental and social issues, which is similar to what I was doing at Greenpeace. I learnt a lot during my 10 or 12 years there, and now want to put it to good effect."
Date: 5 Jan 2002 22:04:03 -0000
From: "Andura Smetacek"
Subject: Watchout Greenpeace, Melchett has joined the dark side...
So now former Greenpeace director Peter Melchett, after lining his pockets from organic supermarkets
whose profits he surged with his (proven false by the UK advertising standards authority) food fear
campaigns against biotechnology, is now going to work for Burson Marstellar (BM). BM, which happens to
represent biotech-leader Monsanto, should be ashamed of itself for succumbing to Melchett's thuggery and
apparent protection racket.
Melchett's strategy, like Greenpeace, apparently is if you pay 'em enough, they'll support you. With a fat
paycheck -- courtesy of Monsanto and BM's other clients, Melchett's values he so staunchly promoted
during his anti-biotech campaigns seem rather, well, lacking and perhaps never really existed.
Wasn't Melchett the one who said he and Greenpeace would NEVER work with or support Monsanto unless they
converted to 100% organic? Ah, that was before he got on their payroll (indirectly that is by working for
The lesson for other corporations under the gun from Greenpeace and the like is simple. What-ever they say
they don't really mean it. They really just want you to write them a big check. It's just a modern day
version of low-life protection rackets run against shop keepers in New York. Threaten and scare them,
then become their close friend and advisor when they decide to pay you enough.
Unfortunately, for companies and consumers today, these protection rackets are conducted openly and
without repercussion or risk of imprisonment (even when Melchett clearly broke the law destroying private
property, vandalizing farm equipment and threatening the livelihood of farmers growing biotech crops the
British courts gave him a free walk, no record, no jail time).
Shame on Monsanto and shame on Burson Marstellar for caving to this protection racket. The victims are not
just the Monsanto's who pay the protection money to save their business, the other victims are the
consumers who have been shaken with Melchett's food fear campaigns. Melchett and Greenpeace use consumers
as pawns to help line their pockets (lest we forget Greenpeace's annual budget now exceeds US $150
Oddly, after taking his money, now Sir Melchett is complaining that he's being treated unfairly for this
move. In an article entitled, "Eco-Warrior Peer Goes Over To The Other Side" Melchett told the Daily
Telegraph (04-Jan-02), "This poacher turned gamekeeper stuff is simply not fair. I am going to be giving
advice to companies about environmental and social issues, which is similar to what I was doing at
Hmm, is that what he was doing at Greenpeace when he was arrested for destroying a farmers property? If
trashing government-sponsored field trials is the kind of advice he'll now be giving Monsanto, then
Greenpeace better bar the doors of their fancy corporate offices in Amsterdam for fear of corporate
suits dumping truckloads of organic fertilizer (shite) on their doorsteps, sabotaging the Rainbow Warrior, or
disrupting their next teach-in with streaking executives waving banners and singing We Shall
Date: Fri, 04 Jan 2002 14:37:31 -0500
From: Doug Powell
Subject: Bt in the river
Letter to the editor
Preliminary claims that genetically engineered Bt corn is now a threat
to aquatic life (Ontario Farmer, Dec. 25/01) will, like the supposed
threat to the Monarch butterfly, prove to be great theatre and lousy science.
In late December, the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir ran a story about a
so-called buildup of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein in the St.
Lawrence River. Ontario Farmer ran the same story without seeking further
The story referred to "heavy contamination" and "troubling results" and
quoted French scientist Jean-Francois Narbonne, a toxicologist at Bordeaux
University, who suggested that earthworms were in danger and that soil
bacteria had likely picked up DNA for the Bt gene from the root
exudates of Bt corn plants.
If Narbonne was a Hollywood screenwriter, he'd get high marks for
imagination, but fail on the facts. Researchers on the project have
refuted Narbonne's comments, which are out of line with the large body of
research done on Bt, demonstrating a beneficial or at least benign impact on
The river study was done by a team of researchers from the St. Lawrence
Centre, operated by Environment Canada. They collected samples of
river sediment downstream from Bt corn fields. The surprising part was that
the Bt protein levels in the St. Lawrence were higher than the levels
found inside the Bt corn fields.
Since the Devoir article, Dr. François Gagné, a research scientist on
the project, has received many phone calls about the study and told one of
us (Thomas) in an interview that, "It was an alarmist article," he said.
"The results that he [Narbonne] referred to were preliminary and
misinterpreted. He said we detected large quantities; in fact the levels we found were
very low, they were trace amounts. "
Gagné also said Narbonne's gene-transfer hypothesis was "not likely."
As scientists such as C.S. Prakash of Tuskegee University have already
noted, "speculation that roots of corn plants may have transferred Bt
genes to bacteria is outrageous as such horizontal transfer of genes occurs
slowly over evolutionary time scale and at extremely low frequencies, if at
Gagné seemed frustrated to be asked questions about very early results
of a three year study. " We're not even sure yet if the Bt we detected
originated from genetically-modified organisms," he said. "There are baseline
levels of Bt in the soil."
In fact, there are more than 60 known varieties of Bt bacteria found in
nature, some of which come from aquatic environments such as the St. Lawrence.
Many previous studies have shown that Bt proteins are rapidly broken
down in most soil types. " [Our results] are not in conflict with previous
research," said Gagné, "but the reason for the testing in these areas of high Bt
corn production was to see if the rate of input into the environment could
become higher than the rate of degradation."
As an insecticide, Bt has a long safety record. It acts chiefly on
Lepidopteran insects, such as the European corn borer. Although Narbonne expressed
concern for earthworms exposed to the Bt in the river sediment, Gagné said that
the levels of Bt they detected were " well below the levels that would do
the worms harm".
In an email this week Narbonne admitted that "the concentration [of Bt]
found by the Canadian group are not indication of high risk actually for the
river or soil ecosystems but provide clear signal for complementary studies for
risk assessment of GMOs."
New studies such as Gagné 's will continue to be added to the large
body of research on Bt corn. This research is regularly reviewed by Government
agencies that license genetically engineered crops.
Last fall the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed two
years of review and approved the use of Bt corn for an additional seven
years. Among the benefits they cited in their report were reduced use of more
toxic pesticides and the lower amounts of mycotoxins (harmful to people and
livestock in large quantities) found in Bt corn compared to conventional
Krista Thomas and Doug Powell
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 23:39:54 -0600
Subject: Terminator technology for GE crops
Date: Tue, 01 Jan 2002 16:38:58 -0500
From: William Muir
Subject: Re: Terminator technology for GE crops
Dear Prof. Srivastava
See below for additional comments.
>The term 'terminator technology'has a negative connotation in the mind
>common people here in India. That is why I am attracted to learn
>more about your views.
>I am keen to know the difference between horizontal and vertical
>gene flow, and the role of teminator technology in controlling the
>negative effects of gene flow.
Horizontal gene flow is mediated by viral and/or transposons. This
is mainly a concern if the GM organism was developed using either of
those methods to insert the construct. Because of this concern, very
few if any GM organisms proposed to be released have been developed
using this method.
Vertical gene flow occurs through the natural process of mating and
passing the gene on to the offspring.
>In essence, I would seek your views on positive and negative aspects
>of terminator technology.
The positive side of the terminator technology, more correctly called
induceable fertile, is that it greatly limits the possibility of
vertical gene flow. A similar technology has been in use for a long
time in aquaculture called triploidization. This is a mechanical
process which causes the offspring to have a 3rd set of chromosomes.
The imbalance in chromosome numbers causes functional sterility.
However, the process does have a relatively high failure rate.
Animals or plants which are induceable fertile are born sterile and
can only be made fertile using treatments found only in the lab.
Thus, if these plants or animals escape, they cannot reproduce.
The downside is if the escaped animals, plants, or pollen cross with
native animals or plants, the eggs or seeds won't hatch or germinate.
This will reduce yield in plants and negatively affect population
numbers of animals. However, in plants the effect will most likely
be minimal as there is an overabundance of pollen from other sources
and the probability of cross-pollination decreases by the square of
the distance from the GM plants, i.e. only those plants on the fringe
of another field will be affected. Note, this assumes the GM plants
will produce pollen, it is possible to generate GM plants which do
not create pollen, in which case cross pollination is not an issue.
In animals, particularly fish, if large number of sterile males
escape repeatedly over time they could wipe out a native population.
Thus fish people who use this technology also have to sex reverse so
that only females are produced.
There may be some downsides from a social/economic prospective.
This is not my field, but I will give my thoughts. It is the choice
of any farmer to use a given technology. The terminator technology
would not allow a farmer to reuse the seed, if that is an issue they
should stay away from these types of products. But, in any society
in which a neighbor has an advantage, he can afford to sell at a
lower price. This means he can put those out of business who do not
use the technology. Is this good or bad? I am assuming that the
cost of raising the crop includes cost of purchasing the seed. Thus
it one can afford to pay for seed and still sell cheaper than the
neighbor who replants his own seed, then perhaps the technology
should be accepted. This is called the free market. What works is
rewarded and what isn't is discarded. This has worked in the
developed world but may not work in countries with different
Bill Muir, Professor of Genetics , Department of Animal Sciences,
FEWER ADULTS THINK ORGANIC FOOD IS SAFER
The Independent (London)
January 4, 2002
By Graham Hiscott
CONSUMERS ARE becoming sceptical about the benefits of buying organic food, market analysts believe.
Sales of organic produce have soared in recent years and are predicted to total pounds 1.2bn by the end of the year. But the consumer research group Mintel says growing cynicism about how much better organic food is for both the environment and people's health could limit future growth. Industry figures show the market for organic food and drink grew by 35 per cent in the past year and is now worth pounds 980m. Even taking into account the expected rise in sales through the coming year, however, the sector will account for only 1.5 per cent of total food and drink purchases for the home.
A survey of 1,000 adults by Mintel shows a drop over the past two years in the numbers who thought organic products were safer than the standard equivalent. In 1999, 22 per cent of people said organic was safer, but that figure fell to 18 per cent in 2001.
James McCoy, senior consultant analyst at Mintel, said: "Such responses suggest that not all consumers view organic foods as a panacea to their concerns about food."
Cynicism was particularly evident among young people, with 11 per cent of those surveyed last year aged 15 to 24 believing organic produce is better for you, compared with 20 per cent in 1999.
The poll revealed consumers in Scotland had the strongest belief in the health benefits of organic food. A fifth of Scots said it was better for them, up by 8 per cent on two years ago. Just 10 per cent of those living in London thought the same.
Mr McCoy said organic foods would remain popular with a core number of consumers opposed to over-production and the use of pesticides.
The supermarket chain Tesco announced in November last year it had set a target to grow its organic market to pounds 1bn within five years by introducing hundreds of new products.
Doubts grow on organic foods
The Times (London)
January 4, 2002
CONSUMERS in Scotland have the strongest belief in the health benefits of organic food, a poll has shown. Almost 25 per cent of Scots questioned said that it was better for them, up 8 per cent from 1999. The same number of people north of the border thought organic food was safer than non-organic. In contrast, 10 per cent of those living in London thought the same.
Overall, British consumers are becoming sceptical about the benefits of organic food. Sales have soared in recent years but Mintel, the consumer analyst, believes this could be limited by growing cynicism about how much better organic food is for the environment and for health.
Industry figures show that the market for organic food and drink in Britain grew 35 per cent in the past year and is worth Pounds 980 million. But even with the expected rise in sales in the coming year, the sector is estimated to account for just 1.5 per cent of total food and drink purchases for the home.
A Mintel survey of 1,000 adults found that 16 per cent considered organic food was safer compared with 22 per cent in 1999. The number who thought organic meant better for you fell from 22 per cent two years ago to 18 per cent.
CHANNEL 4 NEWS
January 4, 2002
Organic food, once touted as the key to improving dietary health, and an antidote to unsustainable farming methods, is not living up to it's wholesome green credentials.
A new survey reveals growing cynicism about how healthy organic food actually is, could limit its future.
Although once associated with Birkenstocks and heavy-knit jumpers, a decade of food scares such as Salmonella and BSE has lent credence to the organic ideal.
High profile backers, too, extolled its virtues - notably two-years ago, when supermarket chain Iceland bought up 40 per cent of the world's organic output.
But even then the food market didn't live up to expectations. Iceland's sales slumped and its share price halved.
And just weeks ago, veggie hangout Cranks - unable to afford central London rents - closed all five of its stores in the capital.
ORGANIC FOOD: HOW HEALTHY IS THE MARKET?
So has the glasshouse ceiling already been reached? Although sales of organic produce soared last year by 35 per cent - to reach £1.2billion in 2002 - its still just 1.5 per cent of the food and drink market.
ORGANIC FOOD: IS IT BETTER FOR YOU?
More telling is the trend in attitudes. The survey shows that in 1999, 22 per cent of adults thought organic food was better for you than their standard equivalent. That figure dropped to 18 per cent in 2001.
ORGANIC FOOD: YOUNG PEOPLE'S ATTITUDES
And crucially, the trend is more pronounced in young people, the consumers of the future. In 1999 20 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds thought organic food is better for you - only 11 per cent - half - agreed in 2001.
With existing consumers faith appearing to have peaked, analysts say a static consumer base is bad news for the organic revolution.
Perhaps the real hurdle though is price - 40 per cent of people say the cost - often twice that of normal produce - is the most off-putting factor concerning organic food.
What do you think? Are you convinced organic food is better for you? Join the debate in our forum.
Ruckus Society Latest Feature on ActivistCash.com
Center for Consumer Freedom
January 3, 2001
'Violence to Me is Against Living Things. But Inanimate Objects? I Think You Can be Destructive, You Can Use Vandalism Strategically. It May Be Violence Under the Law, But I Just Don't Think it's Violence.'
- John Sellers, Director of Ruckus Society, in Mother Jones, September/October 2000
'There's a Cadre, if You Will, of Criminal Conspirators Who Are About the Business of Planning Conspiracies to Go in and Cause
Mayhem and Cause Property Damage.'
- Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney, in Salon.com on John Sellers and the Ruckus Society, August 8, 2000
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 -- The Ruckus Society, leaders of a war
waged against biotech foods, the World Bank, World Trade Organization and
globalization of any kind, is the latest extreme organization exposed this
week on ActivistCash.com. Well known for their central role in the 1999 World
Trade Organization riots in Seattle, the Ruckus Society is a well-funded
movement producing footsoldiers of the "protest industry."
ActivistCash.com reveals that the Ruckus Society has reaped hefty grant
awards from the likes of Ted Turner and the "caring capitalists" at Ben &
Jerry's. These high-dollar donations go toward funding "action camps" which
include training in "police confrontation strategies," "street blockades,"
"urban climbing and rappelling" and "learning to lock your head to something."
Mislabeling themselves as leaders in "non-violence" and "civil disobedience,"
these "non-violent" activists were at the center of smashed windows, arson,
and the ransacking of a Starbucks and a McDonalds during the Seattle protests.
ActivistCash.com, which made its debut in December, is the first and only
online resource exposing the funding sources of the most notorious and extreme
groups that conspire to restrict the public's food and beverage choices
through intimidation, taxation and misinformation.
Mining more than 100,000 pages of IRS documents, ActivistCash.com compiles
financial data, background information, profiles of anti-consumer ringleaders,
and more, into the most comprehensive dossier ever assembled on the tremendous
funding network aligned against personal consumer choice of food and drink.
The Center for Consumer Freedom and ActivistCash.com represent a coalition
of restaurant and tavern operators standing up against the growing fraternity
of food cops, health care enforcers, vegetarian activists and meddling
bureaucrats who "know what's best for you."
FIELDS OF DREAMS
January 5, 2002
What's the worst thing that farmers do to the environment ? Use pesticides ? Probably not. Plant genetically engineered crops ? Not even close. It's the simple, time-honoured act of clearing land, draining water from it and ridding it of unwanted biodiversity - commonly known as weeds. Whether cleared by hoe, plough or chemical herbicide, farmland is, according to this story, an ecological sacrifice zone. The story says that in the mid-1990sCarol Shennan, director of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture at the University of
California, Santa Cruz, seized the chance to put her ideas into practice
in the Tule Lake basin of north-eastern California. Nestled in a high valley, more than a kilometre above sea level, the basin is home to a large overwintering population of bald eagles, the US's national bird. Each fall and spring, millions of geese and ducks stop near the lake on their annual migrations along the Pacific flyway. Yet close by the lake, taking up much of the wide, nearly flat valley, were the same fields of potatoes, wheat and barley that Shennan recalled from Lincolnshire. And these fields, too, had been created by draining wetlands. In contrast to Lincolnshire, though, the story says that the conflict between agriculture and nature at Tule Lake was open and raw. The US government, which owns the entire area, had declared the basin a national wildlife refuge, but for almost a century it had leased two-thirds of the land to farmers. The remaining third of the land, 5000 hectares, was set aside as wild wetland. But the compromise hadn't worked. Bird populations had plummeted to one-third t
Biotech Crops Spread Worldwide
Des Moines Register
December 30, 2001
By Anne Fitzgerald
Underdeveloped countries, including Argentina and China, significantly increased their use of genetically engineered crops during 2000, while use in the United States began to level off, a new report shows.
The report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications said that farmers worldwide planted 11 percent more acreage with biotech seeds in 2000 than in 1999.
The percentage increase was significantly lower than the triple-digit gains of the mid-1990s when biotech crops were first commercialized, but growth rates in some lesser developed countries were up sharply in 2000.
Argentina, second only to the United States in genetically engineered acreage, posted a 49 percent increase, while China had a 66 percent gain. Argentina added acreage in transgenic soybeans, corn and cotton, while China added cotton acres.
The report by service applications chairman Clive James shows developing nations are beginning to close the gap, although industrialized nations still accounted for more than three-fourths of global transgenic crop acreage.
Developing nations accounted for 24 percent of biotech crop acreage in 2000, up from 18 percent the year before. In fact, developing nations accounted for 84 percent of the new acreage planted to biotech crops in 2000.
The new class of crops, also called genetically modified organisms is opposed by environmentalists, consumer advocates and others who worry they could harm the environment or human health. A year ago, a major fracas erupted when StarLink corn, a modified organism approved for livestock feed but not for use in human food, began showing up in taco shells and other corn-based products.
It prompted massive food recalls and huge losses in the grain industry.
Despite the concerns, the applications service report shows growing numbers of farmers are joining the biotech bandwagon. It said 3.5 million farmers around the world grew genetically modified crops in 2000, and estimated that the number exceeded 5 million this year.
Global acreage increased from about 4 million acres in 1996, when the crops first hit the market, to 109 million acres last year, the report said. During the same period, the number of nations growing biotech crops more than doubled to 13.
"The efficiency is there. . . . I look for those acres to continue to grow," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities Inc. in West Des Moines.
Adoption of genetically modified soybeans continued to climb in 2000, while corn and some other crops lost ground. Worldwide, about 2 million fewer acres of genetically modified corn were planted in 2000 than in 1999. Most of the decrease occurred in the United States and Canada. The report cited two factors for decreased U.S. corn acreage:
* Reduced planting of Bt corn, designed to thwart European corn borers, because farmers believed low infestations in 1999 pointed to low populations in 2000.
* Farmers worried about the marketability of transgenic corn. The National Corn Growers Association has a "know-before-you-grow" program, urging producers to make sure they have a market for any biotech crops before planting them.
Fred Yoder, an Ohio row crop farmer and president-elect of the association, takes a philosophical view of genetically modified crops.
"We see biotech seed as another tool in your toolbox," he said. "If it makes sense to use it, use it. . . . If your market says don't use it, then don't use it."
Decreases in genetically modified corn acreage in the United States were partially offset by increased genetically altered corn production in Argentina, South Africa and other developing nations, the report said.
The report said biotech soybeans accounted for 58 percent of all genetically modified crop acreage in 2000. In Argentina alone, genetically modified seed was planted on 90 percent of the soybean acreage in 2000.
Published for the fifth consecutive year, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications report also showed that in 2000:
* Global transgenic crop acreage topped 100 million acres for the first time, with production on six continents, although primarily in North America.
* U.S. farmers added 4 million transgenic crop acres, up 6 percent, producing a total of 75 million acres, almost half of all U.S. corn and soybean acreage.
* Argentina, which accounted for 23 percent of global genetically modified crop acreage, added more than 8 million acres for a total of nearly 25 million acres.
* Four countries - the United States, Argentina, Canada and China - accounted for 99 percent of total transgenic crop acreage. The United States and Argentina alone accounted for more than 90 percent.
S.Africa Gets First Biotech Food Crop
United Press International
December 24, 2001
Farmers in South Africa have completed planting of that countrys first commercial biotech food crop.
Roundup Ready soybeans were approved earlier this year by South Africas Executive Council for Genetically Modified Organisms.
"This decision is good news for South African growers who now have an opportunity to share in the economic and environmental benefits of Roundup Ready soybeans," Monsanto spokesman Kinyua Mbijjewe said.
Although this is the first biotech crop to be approved for human consumption, three previous genetic crops have been planted for commercial use since 1998. Those include insect-protected maize for animal feed, Roundup Ready cotton and insect-protected cotton.
SA Ready for Modified Maize
Comtex Custom Wires
January 04, 2002 11:24 AM
GRAIN silo operators and Transnet are geared to handle intricate storage and transport systems to cater for genetically modified white maize, industry sources said yesterday.
The maize is being planted on a commercial basis in SA for the first time this season, after planting of genetically modified yellow maize began four years ago.
The engineered yellow maize is fed to animals, while white maize is used mostly for maize meal for human consumption.
In 1998 the departments of health, agriculture and the environment approved the controversial genetic event plan to transplant insect-resistant genes from one specie to another to boost insect resistant qualities of the grain. Critics say that the scientific procedure could be a threat to the environment and endanger human health.
Several silo owners said yesterday that they geared themselves for four years to separate conventional maize from the genetically modified product, but the changes came at a premium.
Oos Vrystaat Kooperasie grain services manager Gerrie Roetz said countries like Japan and Europe now paid at least R20/ton more for nonmodified food products. The test to ensure that the product is nonmodified was R17/ton. That does not account for costs associated with farmers having to change traditional farming methods, agribusinesses having to adapt their storage procedures or changed railage systems.
Grain handlers OTK and Senwes agreed and said special silo facilities were needed to keep the two types of grain separate at all times. Earlier trading company Unitrade estimated that identifying genetically modified grain and running parallel maize production systems would push up costs to R200/ton or more, particularly if mandatory labelling in the retail sector was introduced.
But SA National Seed Organisation CEO Wynand van der Walt said that genetically modified white maize could eventually mean cheaper maize meal for consumers.
Farmers pay slightly more for the modified seed, but this is far outstripped by savings on chemicals and pesticides, he said.
It has also been shown that yields of genetically modified yellow maize is somewhat higher than the conventional product. This will most likely happen in the case of white maize as well.
White maize is SA's main staple food. This year only 1% of the total white maize crop is expected to be genetically modified.
White maize is SA's main staple food. This year only 1% of the total white maize crop is expected to be genetically modified.
BT COTTON EFFECTIVE IN CONTROLLING BOLLWORM IN INDIA
January 4, 2002
Dr K Venugopal, Head and Project Coordinator at the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) was cited as saying today that field trials have clearly indicated that BT cotton in various cotton growing states was effectively controlling the bollworm, and that opening of the boll was very good in BT cotton, besides marginal improvement in quality. Though BT cotton hybrids were showing daily maturity, ranging from 15 days to one month in all the states, at a few locations two to three sprayings were additionally required, when bollworm crossed economic threshold level, Venugopal told PTI. As the approval for conducting BT trials came only in June last, trials could not be carried out in North zone states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, where sowing was completed by May 15, he said.
Some food labels misleading over GM content
By Christine Newman
January 4, 2002
Misleading claims on food labels that soy-based products contained no GM ingredients have been found in a survey by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The survey of foodstuffs for the presence of genetically modified (GM) soy was carried out by the FSAI to determine the level of GM content in dried soy products, soy substitutes for dairy products and soy infant formulae to ensure the industry was adhering to food labelling regulations.
A total of 37 samples were tested. Of these, 18 were found to have GM ingredients derived from an EU-authorised GM soybean under the threshold of 1 per cent which triggers mandatory GM labelling.
However, six of the 18 samples which tested positive for GM ingredients were mislabelled; five indicated they contained no GM ingredients, and one was labelled as organic.
Under current European legislation, for a food to be labelled as organic or GM-free it must not contain any GM ingredients.
This is the second in a series of surveys by the FSAI, and products were all bought "off the shelf" by the FSAI in a number of health shops and supermarkets.
Dr Patrick O'Mahony, chief specialist in biotechnologyat the FSAI, said no known health implications arose from the presence of the GM ingredients identified in these products. This was more an issue of enabling consumers to be informed before they made a purchase should they choose not to buy GM foods.
Dr O'Mahony said EU legislation governing the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs was clear in its stipulation that food labels must not mislead the public on the composition or production methods of a food, or make false claims as to the properties of a food.
"In order for consumers to make an informed choice about the food they buy, they must be provided with the appropriate information" he said. "We have addressed our concern with the manufacturers found to have misleading labelling, and they are correcting their labelling as appropriate for optimum consumer information."
The FSAI had contacted the retailers, suppliers and manufacturers whose products were included in the survey to inform them of the results and to ensure their compliance with labelling regulations.
"If industry wants to benefit from any marketing advantages derived from labelling their produce as GM-free or organic, then it is obliged to ensure that these foods are indeed free of GM ingredients. The implications are that either industry spends more on expensive GM analysis or it desists from making claims on its products that it is unable to justify," Dr O'Mahony said.
Due to the proliferation of GMOs worldwide and the increasingly global nature of the food supply, it was becoming more difficult for industry to guarantee that certain foods were not made from GM soy or GM maize.
By carrying out regular surveys of the food supply for GM ingredients, the FSAI assesses the level of compliance with the labelling regulations within the industry and takes action if necessary.
Dr O'Mahony said the survey and others planned for the future constituted part of the FSAI's duty to ensure that only EU-licensed GM foods were available in Ireland and that such food displayed the appropriate labelling.
The products named as having misleading labels were Granose soya cream, which had 0.1 per cent ingredients and claimed it was produced from non-GM soybeans; Provamel soya cream and chocolate-flavoured soya dessert; Lecithin granules; and Soya flour.
Organic Soya flour claimed to be organic but had 0.1 per cent GM ingredient.
GM-free foods break the rules
January 04, 2002
IRISH shoppers are being fooled by the GM-free claims on food labels, inspectors claimed yesterday.
Nearly one in six soya products tested in a study by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were found to be breaking EU regulations.
They were sold as GM free or organic despite containing traces of genetically modified ingredients.
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001 17:15:04 -0500
Subject: A Lawyer's Take on Risk, Accountability, and Liability in AgBiotech
A Lawyer's Take on Risk, Accountability, and Liability in AgBiotech
The excellent posting by Dr. Lehmann (Dec. 21) is correct in stating
that liability risks drive corporate stewardship to higher heights of
responsibility than regulatory standards. He also suggests, however,
that "there will be no suit" for extinction of species or ecological
systems without some form of damage to people, corporations or countries,
and that such harm may be missing when a species is rendered extinct.
Similar claims are being made by anti-biotech activists (see
http://www.foeeurope.org/press/gmliabilnov8.htm) who assert that
biotech companies will not be liable for causing economic harm or
environmental damage. I would like to clarify this over-simplification of biotech
company liability, particularly on the subject of causing extinction of
a species, and the relative importance of personal injury in creating
Dr. Lehmann is correct in stating that biotech companies will be held
responsible for economic losses --- but I respectfully disagree with the
impression given in his posting, that those will be relatively less
significant than personal injury risks. The Starlink recall has
reportedly exceeded one billion dollars, with litigation just getting underway.
No personal injury has been proved in Starlink, nor was any personal
injury from biotech-derived l-tryptophan ever documented (the cause of
that mass tort is still being explored in litigation and research).
As a result, the liability scoreboard for biotech is one billion
dollars on the economic side, but zero on the personal injury side. No
personal injury is likely from biotech crops, given the enormous amount of
preventive risk management that is driven, in part, by concern over the
potential for personal injury liability. As a result, there is a
voluntary standard in the biotech industry of not marketing known allergens,
even in segregated animal feed.
We now know, from the Starlink fiasco, that economic harm will be
compensated by responsible biotech companies (i.e., those multinational
corporations that activists dislike for their economic power -- it should
come as no surprise when that economic power also provides funds for
compensation). Aventis will now provide an example for other biotech
companies seeking to avoid billion dollar liability problems. Biotech
companies have had past brushes with billion dollar risks and made
sensible decisions, even if this meant that they had to walk away from eight
figure (over $100 million) in product-related investment. I have
represented soybean growers for several years, projecting future liability
scenarios and how to prevent that liability. In 1998, the American
Soybean Association asked Aventis to refrain from marketing "Liberty Link"
soybeans to prevent liability for commingling in 1998 (estimated at
several billion in trade losses).
After months of negotiations and legal analysis, lawyers for Aventis
concurred that liability might attach to both biotech company and grower
for commingling of an unapproved variety (if the biotech company's
recommended stewardship program was inadequate). The liability risk only
became clear when the lawyers involved recognized the common law's
tendency to evolve to address new forms of harm. It is unfortunate that the
same restraint was not used when Aventis sold Starlink corn, but that
unfortunate commingling problem has taught everyone some important
lessons about biotech company liability --- the law will evolve to impose
liability where it is fair to do so. The Starlink episode is driving a
new level of corporate attention to biotech crop commingling risks.
As I have pointed out in past postings to this listserver, the
biotechnology industry will be the leading force in establishing liability
standards for harm to genetic resources in the 21st Century. The
reasons for this are self-evident, but worth restating. First, the tools
biotech bring to plant breeding greatly expand the range of genes that
can be used for economic benefit --- this leads to a greater degree of
compensability under legal doctrines awarding compensation for harm to
publicly or privately owned resources. Second, the biotech crop is sold
with a traceable genetic fingerprint, which makes it easier for injured
parties to seek compensation for loss of genetic resource. In sum,
biotech changes everything, in terms of liability for harm to genetic
resources. There will increasingly be more compensable targets (genetic
resources with newfound value) for crops to harm, and ready traceability
for biotech crops that cause it. For the untraceable crops, there may
be liability under "enterprise liability" theories that evolved to force
compensation from entire industries marketing a product in an
untraceable manner, but I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Biotech traceability ensures biotech company responsibility. This
responsibility stands in stark contrast to other crops, including organic,
which may cause genetic pollution (defined as economically harmful
outcrossing of genes --- not all outcrossing will cause compensable harm)
but may never be held responsible. While these non-biotech crops cause
harm with equal vigor, they could go largely untraced. Faced with a
future where genetic pollution is being traced primarily to the deep
pocket biotech companies, I expect that the deep pocket biotech companies
will increasingly invest heavily in preventive measures to ensure that
their genetic calling cards are not found in a "last stand" of rare
genetic resources (i.e. one that has been hybridized to extinction).
Pioneer's greenhouses in Mexico are a good example of sensible corporate
stewardship --- biotech companies have good reasons for avoiding
outcrossing to wild relatives of the corn plant (which include the need to
maintain the genetic purity of the biotech crop from pollen coming in).
Biotech's tools for detection and valuation will be used to punish any
traceable harm to rare genetic resources. This is a powerful incentive
to avoid causing harmful commingling of DNA in wild relatives or land
races that may have value to our common future. Sloppy biotech
companies that cause harm, economic or environmental, will be found out through
genetic tracing and forced to pay by their fellow biotech companies
(who will sell genetic tests, competing products, and expert testimony to
lawyers for use in establishing liability).
The trend toward liability standards for harm to genetic resources is
underway under the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, which (1)
gave nations ownership of genetic resources, and (2) suggested national
liability standards as a way to protect genetic resources (Article XIV
of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which asks nations to examine
liability measures that would protect genetic resources). This
liability issue is being considered for biotech crops under the biosafety
protocol, with activists pursuing a particularly pernicious and misguided
policy of singling out biotechnology crops for liability, which would
chill innovation in the one technology that will build value in genetic
resources. All true environmentalists should rise up in opposition to
biotech-only strict liability standards. What is needed, and what
should arise as binding international law if the parties do their homework,
are guidelines that suggest equivalent liability standards for
enterprises that cause the extinction of a "last stand" of rare genetic
resources; whether through bulldozers, "organic" corn, or biotech crops.
Liability for damage to natural resources is a rapidly evolving area
of environmental law. Just as many types of human injury went
uncompensated at first (e.g., asbestos miners in the early 1900's) many injuries
to natural resources are occurring, uncompensated at present, but which
the law evolves to compensate in time. More recently, environmental
lawyers routinely sue or defend corporations (e.g. Exxon, post-Valdez)
that are retroactively charged, for each fish, otter, bird, etc. under
federal laws allowing compensatory damages for harm to natural resources.
I expect one day to defend companies accused of causing extinction of
rare genetic resources, or bring suit on behalf of a company or nation
whose genetic resources were damaged by negligent conduct of a careless
person. The expert witnesses in such a case would be drawn from the
ranks of biotech industry geneticists (who trace the DNA), the
outcrossing experts (who show how it got there) and the biotech industry
economists who determine the value of genetic resources.
Given the importance of genetic resources to future economic
development, we can expect legal standards to evolve in a "biocentric" manner
that gives increasing recognition to a species right to continued
In sum, this is the 21st Century, and both law and the biosphere will
evolve more rapidly than we can readily predict. For Earth's steadily
diminishing stands of rare genetic resources, the biotech industry is the
closest thing we have to the cavalry riding to the rescue (or for those
into Greek drama, a Deus ex Machina, or "god in a machine").
THE EXCERPT FROM PRIOR EMAIL
Risk, Accountability, and Liability - AgBiotech and the Specter of
- John Lehmann, PhD, President , DrugIntel.com , Wayne, Pennsylvania
1. Damage. No matter how deplorable a transformation to ecological
systems may be, such as introduction of new weeds or extinction of a
species, if damage to human individuals, corporations, or countries
cannot be demonstrated, there will be no suit. However, it is not
essential that dollar denominated damage have occurred. In fact, less
tangible damage often presents a more significant liability threat
than one that can be capped by a specific dollar amount. For
instance, escape of a herbicide resistance gene from a crop plant
into a weed plant requiring use of an alternative herbicide is a
damage whose cost can be exactly calculated, and is not a major
deterrent, from a corporate risk point of view. In contrast,
precocious puberty in girls caused by BST contamination of milk
represents a potentially huge class action suit.